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'SNL' Ratings Soar From Palin Appearance
October 20, 2008

By James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
contributor to

When the real Sarah Palin appeared on “Saturday Night Live,” the show drew the largest TV audience in 14 years and ended up being the third highest-rated show of the week, including prime time.

Palin’s "SNL" debut was only beaten in the ratings by ABC’s “Dancing With the Stars” and CBS’ “CSI.”

Palin is continuing a pattern of revitalized ratings numbers for "SNL," which began their ascent with Tina Fey's impersonations of the Republican vice-presidential candidate.

Ratings for Saturday’s Palin show shot "SNL’s" figures up 50 percent; this despite the occurrence of an opposite trend in network television.

"SNL" is also benefiting from a huge number of viewers who watched the Palin bits on the Web and are continuing to do so.

According to Integrated Media Measurement Inc., of those who watched at least one of the three "SNL" Palin sketches, 33 percent saw the original TV broadcast, and 67 percent saw it either online or with a TiVo or DVR device.

“I think the gods smiled on us with the Palin thing. Like if he [John McCain] had chosen Romney, I think it would be completely different,” "SNL’s" executive producer Lorne Michaels told The New York Times.

Could it be that Michaels will think about pulling the lever for the GOP ticket just to keep the Palin parodies going?

NBC Feeling Economic Pinch

In other entertainment industry news, one huge Hollywood honcho is chatting up spending cuts.

Jeff Zucker, the head of NBC Universal, is talking about some big slashes that may amount to $500 million in the coming year. The total reduction of expenditures equals 3 percent of the company's budget.

Zucker cited the volatile nature of the economy as the reason for such a draconian measure.

“We are living in a time of unprecedented economic challenges, and it is increasingly clear that the worldwide economic slowdown will continue into next year,” Zucker wrote.

The entertainment exec described the steps as ones that must be taken “to prepare for these new economic realities.”

It’s a pretty good bet that the suits at the NBC Universal division are scratching their heads as they try to come up with some sensible budget-snipping ideas.

Here’s a thought: To save some of that sorely needed cash, the company might consider giving the ax to a couple of its recently demoted MSNBC hosts.

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James L. Hirsen, J.D., Ph.D.
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